Finding Reality In An Abstract World
“I couldn’t see the shape of my vision anymore.”
Last week, on a sunny but cold Monday, I had a coffee with Orville Schenkers. He was born in Suriname, raised in Saint Martin, and now lives in the Netherlands since the age of twelve together with his mother. His parents divorced when he was three years old, but still have contact now and then. The very being of him has been moving from country to country, but never found a place to call his home, until he arrived in the Netherlands.
Me and Orville go a long way back. I met him eight years ago as a funny smooth talker kind of guy. Somewhere in those eight years, we lost contact, but we ended going to the same college again. Coincidence? I think not! Although his outfit may be different, but the good old Orville hasn’t changed at all — still the funny smooth talker with his new beany and oversized scarf.
“Characters do not change. Opinions alter, but characters are only developed.” — Benjamin Disraeli
Not Just A Hobby
One day, I saw Orville walking around with his Canon camera. It seemed to me he had found a new hobby. I asked if he would like to join me and my team for a business trip to London, with him being the photographer. He didn’t even hesitate and replied: “Sounds cool! When is the trip?”
And so, we left for London. From the first day we arrived in London till the last day we left, I could observe his passion with every shot he took with his camera. There were times when we needed to hurry. And sometimes, he just stopped, stared into the distant, took his time to get the right angle, breathes out and took his shot. I was watching him and the people around him, as if time itself stood still.
As I watched him shooting photos, I was curious to find out where his passion came from. This whole time, I never asked about his true reason, until last week on Monday. And this is his story.
“You know when you start making plans for the future on starting your own company, you write a business plan. You take small steps in getting all the finances, and getting connected with people. I wanted to do something with languages and international business.”
Orville shared his story with much pride and enthusiasm, but the mood changed as he followed up with a sad happening.
“Suddenly, I found myself in the middle of a burnout from all the busyness with collecting capital. Just like that, months have passed by. And after seven months, I tried to pick up where I left off, but I couldn’t retrace my purpose anymore and what I intended to do in the first place.”
“Also, two years ago, I broke my kneecap and that really took a huge toll on me. Four surgeries were required to fix my kneecap and time was once again taken away from me. The road ahead became blurry, and so was my dream. I couldn’t see the shape of my vision anymore, instead, I saw a world dipped in an abstract art where no words could ever describe it.”
I felt sorry to hear he couldn’t pursue his dream anymore. I could see the disappointment in his eyes as he tried to hide it with a faint smile. I didn’t want him to linger in that dark place by bringing it up repeatedly. So, I asked if that was the point where he started photography.
“Yes, I went crazy from doing nothing, so I just started to do something. I spontaneously bought a camera and started to take pictures. I wanted to recapture the vision I once had through photography. After two years of playing and practising around with my camera, I found a style I feel a connection with and that is black and white photography with an abstract twist to it. I think this became my new view on the reality of this world.”
What is the vision that you see for yourself now?
“I don’t want to label myself as a photographer, but I can say that my passion lies in photography now. I want to share images, moments, and stories through my work. I want my work to be the manifestation of my vision I once had — an abstract world made into reality through photography.”
Orville expressed that he wants to further pursue the art of photography and travel the world. He was able to forge himself a new vision, where photography is the story when words fail. At first, I got the impression that his dark days had consumed him, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The energy he showed me was filled with satisfaction and acceptance towards a new tomorrow.
His story reminded me of the words from Socrates:
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” — Socrates
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